Our Community - Elgar Badillo - "Protecting our natural resources"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 45            December 7, 2000

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Elgar Badillo

Having been blessed with precious natural resources such as our barrier reef and mangrove forests, it is no wonder San Pedro attracts hundreds of visitors every year. But in order to maintain these treasures, to keep them alive and intact for future generations and tourists, careful monitoring and studies need to be done. This is the responsibility of this week's personality who has devoted a big part of his life to looking after one of our most beautiful tourist attractions - Mr. Elgar Badillo.

    Born in San Pedro on July 20th, 1965 to parents Evarista and Bernabe Badillo (deceased), Elgar grew up as a happy child among his three brothers. He attended San Pedro Roman Catholic School and then graduated as an Academic student from San Pedro High School in 1983. Encouraged by his interest in the sea he went on to St. John's College/Junior College in Belize City, majoring in Biology. Unfortunately, because of a lack of financial resources, Elgar had to discontinue his studies after one year. By this point he had developed a passion for biological studies and knew he wanted to pursue a career in this field. But life had a different plan for him and upon his return to San Pedro, he went to work as a teacher at the elementary school for one year. Although he thoroughly enjoyed this experience, deep inside, Elgar knew this was not what he wanted so he tried his luck working in the construction business for four years. Again, he found this was not his fortÈ and joined the Belize Defence Force for one year. Then, through the help of the San Pedro Town Board, Elgar accepted a position as a Public Health Inspector in Belize City. After two years, he returned to San Pedro as Health Inspector for the island.

    It was when Elgar came back to San Pedro that he met James Azueta who was working at a marine protected area, namely Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Mr. Azueta offered him an opportunity to work with him on this project and Elgar happily accepted. Having a basic knowledge of Biology, he knew he could assist with this and at the same time gain more experience. Elgar recalls that the start-up process was very hectic as there were only three people working at Hol Chan. He commented, "We had to be involved in all aspects of the job. From fixing the boats and running the office, to being a carpenter, ranger and Biologist - we did everything." He grew even more interested in the protection of the marine environment and gave this job his best.

    Mr. Badillo's hard work and determination were soon compensated when in 1994 he was sent to participate in a two-month Park Ranger Enforcement Course at Key Largo and Loe Key Marine Sanctuaries in Florida, USA. This was the beginning of a series of educational forums he would attend including: the Second Annual World Congress of Park Rangers in Costa Rica; the First Conference of Latin American Park Rangers in Valle Bravo, Mexico; numerous local courses throughout Belize and most recently a BEMMANCOR seminar in Chetumal, Mexico.

    Presently, Mr. Badillo is Hol Chan's Senior Park Ranger and Fisheries Officer. His responsibilities include supervising two other park rangers, assisting the Biologist with research, enforcing park rules, safeguarding the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, serving as a liaison to the tour guides and any other emergency requirements. In keeping with his devotion to his work, he recently completed a NAUI Dive Instructor's Course with Larry Parker which he feels will aid him immensely in his everyday work and research.

    Mr. Elgar Badillo told this newspaper, "I am happy I made this move. I have enjoyed my work and hope that more young people get involved as well. The reef and all Belize's natural resources are our livelihood and we should all do our part to protect them. It is very refreshing to see that most of the tour guides are abiding by the laws in order to protect this fragile ecosystem."

    Elgar Badillo, a father of two, has answered his call and does it with much pride and dedication. His knowledge of how delicate our marine protected areas are and his love of the sea have made him a fierce protector of our reef. Elgar Badillo takes pleasure in looking after the well-being of the many pristine attractions in "Our Community."

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